Please wait a few moments while we process your request
Please wait...

Bill Seaman

Red Dice / Dés chiffrés

Bill Seaman, Red Dice, 2000
Bill Seaman, Red Dice, 2000 Red Dice exhibition poster, 2001
(Two video projectors, Macintosh G4 computer, Red Dice software, laser disc player, electronic tablet and pen, sound system, desk, chair; variable dimensions.)

The Daniel Langlois Foundation, in collaboration with the Cinémathèque québécoise, presents Red Dice, an interactive work by American artist Bill Seaman.

Red Dice pays homage to Stéphane Mallarmé's poem Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard [Dice Thrown Never Will Annul Chance]. According to Peter Weibel, Mallarmé's poem represents "a first example of a network structure, of random combinatorics, multiple choices [...]." (1) Drawing on the still-fresh innovative force of this landmark in modern poetry, the artist has produced an arrangement of elements that invites the viewer to juggle words, images and music.

How exactly is meaning produced? Seaman does not attempt to answer this question in his works but, rather, explores the whole issue of meaning. Meaning cannot be reduced to language alone, however. Other forms of meaning exist, with their own semantic fields. By assembling different forms of expression in a "recombinant poetics,"(2) Seaman appeals to our memory, our imagination and our perceptions as we weave our own web of meanings. For not only does the participant play an active, even performative, role that is necessary for the meaning to emerge, this role also calls the notion of author into question. Like his predecessors in conceptual art, Seaman steps aside in favour of his work, leaving the greater share to the navigator.

The words navigation, navigate-alluded to in the Mallarmé poem-conjure up movement, the absence of fixedness. And if we apply them to the question of meaning, they demonstrate the artist's desire to create an open, richly evocative work, one that is constantly evolving. Does that give us navigation as a new ontology?

Jacques Perron © 2001 FDL

(1) Peter Weibel, "The Post-Gutenberg Book" in Artintact 3 (Karlsruhe: ZKM/Cantz Verlag, 1996): 27.

(2) Taken from the title of his Ph.D. thesis, Recombinant Poetics: Emergent Meaning as Examined and Explored Within a Specific Generative Virtual Environment. Seaman received his Ph.D. in 1999 from the Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts at the University of Wales. The document is available at the Daniel Langlois Foundation's Centre for Research and Documentation. Also: